US slaps sanctions on Myanmar generals

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US President Joe Biden has approved an executive order for new sanctions on those responsible for the military coup in Myanmar and he repeated demands for the generals to give up power and free civilian leaders.

Biden said the executive order would enable his administration "to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests as well as close family members".

He said Washington would identify the first round of targets this week and was taking steps to prevent the generals in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, having access to $US1 billion ($A1.3 billion) in funds held in the United States.

"We're also going to impose strong exports controls. We're freezing US assets that benefit the Burmese government, while maintaining our support for health care, civil society groups, and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly," Biden said at the White House on Wednesday.

"We'll be ready to impose additional measures, and we'll continue to work with our international partners to urge other nations to join us in these efforts."

The February 1 coup, which overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian-led government, occurred less than two weeks after Biden took office.

Biden said Myanmar was of "deep and bipartisan concern" in the United States.

"I again call on the Burmese military to immediately release the democratic political leaders and activists," he said. "The military must relinquish power it's seized."

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing Washington was rolling out collective actions with partners on Myanmar and could impose substantial costs on the generals.